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Report on Sangay (Ecuador) — 3 March-9 March 2021


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 March-9 March 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Sangay (Ecuador) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 March-9 March 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (3 March-9 March 2021)



2.005°S, 78.341°W; summit elev. 5286 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

IG reported a high level of activity at Sangay during 3-9 March. Seismicity was characterized by daily explosions, long-period earthquakes, and signals indicating emissions. Weather clouds often prevented visual observations of the volcano, but satellite and webcam images recorded daily ash plumes.

Ash plumes were notable during 5-6 March and impacted communities downwind with ashfall. According to the Washington VAAC ash plumes rose 5.8-12.2 km (19,000-40,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted 170-370 km SW, W, and NW; ash at altitudes of 5.8-8.2 km (19,000-27,000 ft) a.s.l. drifted 185 km E. During 5-6 March ashfall was reported in Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno (132 km W), but fell more significantly in Alausí (61 km WSW), Chunchi (73 km SW), Cumandá (90 km WSW), Guamote (42 km WNW), Pallatanga (70 km W), Milagro (140 km W), San Jacinto de Yaguachi (150 km W), Samborondon (170 km W), Daule (180 km W), and Durán (168 km W). SNGRE reported that the ashfall affected a total of 108,457 people (23,750 families) as well as numerous crops and animals; they distributed volcano-related aid kits to impacted populations.

Ashfall continued to impact multiple communities during 6-7 March. Ash fell in Guayaquil (175 km W), General Antonio Elizalde (97 km WSW), Simón Bolívar, Milagro (140 km W), San Jacinto de Yaguachi (150 km W), El Triunfo (125 km WSW), Daule, Samboróndon (170 km W), Coronel Marceliño Maridueña (120 km WSW), Durán, Naranjito, Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno, Playas (240 km WSW), Guamote (40 km WNW), Alausí (60 km SW), Pallatanga (70 km W), Chunchí (72 km SW), and Colta (55 km NW).

Geological Summary. The isolated Sangay volcano, located east of the Andean crest, is the southernmost of Ecuador's volcanoes and its most active. The steep-sided, glacier-covered, dominantly andesitic volcano grew within the open calderas of two previous edifices which were destroyed by collapse to the east, producing large debris avalanches that reached the Amazonian lowlands. The modern edifice dates back to at least 14,000 years ago. It towers above the tropical jungle on the east side; on the other sides flat plains of ash have been eroded by heavy rains into steep-walled canyons up to 600 m deep. The earliest report of an eruption was in 1628. Almost continuous eruptions were reported from 1728 until 1916, and again from 1934 to the present. The almost constant activity has caused frequent changes to the morphology of the summit crater complex.

Sources: Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG-EPN), Servicio Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos y Emergencias (SNGRE)